France: toughened immigration law in the Senate returns for agitated debates in the Assembly

The immigration law, whose new version adopted by the Senate is the subject of heated controversy in France, arrives this week in the National Assembly. It will be studied by the various committees before being debated in the Chamber. This is an opportunity for the cross-party group that was created during the drafting of the text to make its voice heard again. Parliamentarians from the left, but also from the presidential camp, have launched a call for a rebalancing.

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French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin speaks during a question-and-answer session with the government at the National Assembly in Paris on Nov. 21, 2023. AFP - MIGUEL MEDINA

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A symbolic choice of the supporters of a "humanist" immigration law: it was at the home of a restaurant owner who was unable to regularize an undocumented employee that they held their press conference on Monday, November 27.

A concrete example of the need to erase the hardening of the text voted by the Senate, according to the Green MP Julien Bayou, whose remarks are reported by Aurélien Devernoix, of RFI's political service.


There is an ideological battle being played out, explains the EELV MP. There are some crazy things that have been passed in the Senate: the loss of the right of the soil, the abolition of state medical aid... It doesn't make any sense.


Also questioned by the senators is the regularization of workers without residence permits. In short, too many red lines have been crossed, including for part of the presidential camp, including Maud Gatel, a MoDem MP.

Although a member of Emmanuel Macron's relative majority in the Assembly, François Bayrou's Democratic Movement, she assures, "is clearly on a position of returning to a balanced text".

"We want to go further"

But where does the balance lie? Unlike its allies of circumstance, the left does not see it in the initial text and the Socialist MP Boris Vallaud intends to remind the said allies of circumstance of it.


We will fight, he explains, with a common base which, for us socialists, is a minimal base since we want to go further. We will also try to confront the majority with a number of its contradictions. It is supposed to be an integration law, there is not a single measure designed to better integrate.


The battle will therefore be waged in two stages: first of all joint amendments to restore the initial provisions of the law, then each will defend its own positions within the Bourbon Palace.

Debates in the Assembly began on Monday evening in committee, and around 1,400 amendments have already been tabled to modify this text, which has been strongly hardened by the right in the upper house of Parliament.

It is noted that several additions of the Senate should disappear, in particular the transformation of the state medical aid, the AME. The government also hopes to reach a compromise to avoid yet another forced passage.

Listen againImmigration: do we need a law?

'Seeking compromises'

To do this, "if we have to continue discussions after Christmas to get to the end of the text, we will do it," confided the Minister of Relations with Parliament, Franck Riester, quoted by Pierrick Bonno, of RFI's political service.

The equation is clear, for the executive: if it wants to avoid a 49.3, it has to fill up on the side of the majority and get about forty votes from the other groups. It's a balancing act for Gérald Darmanin, who is on the front line.

As the Minister of the Interior has said, he has planned to attend all the work of the committee. Mr. Darmanin intends to ensure that the potential allies of the majority will benefit from it.

Within the executive, there are high expectations for the discussions in the hemicycle which will begin on 11 December. "The interior minister is very convincing," says one of his colleagues on the government bench. "It's up to us not to be provocative and to seek compromises," he concluded.

Not just with LR. In particular, negotiations are underway with MPs from the centrist Liot group, in exchange for concessions in the overseas territories. Every vote could count. The government has taken out the calculator.

Read alsoFrance: the moment of truth for the immigration bill in the Assembly

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